Is bread bad for you? Misconceptions about it have seen a decline in bread sales, a recent survey reveals. Results showed 48% of people bought bread only once a week. Younger groups 18-24 say they buy it less than once a week – 68% in this age group say it is sometimes once a fortnight they purchase bread. It’s all down to bad rap in the health department.

The main reasons 18-24 year olds gave for not buying bread as much as they did five years ago are:

* 46% said that bread makes me/my family put on weight

* 46% said that bread is unhealthy

* 23% say  it causes bloating

* Compared to only 8% –  who cite price as a reason

The findings show that people are confused about the nutrient content of bread – more than a quarter of those questioned (28%) don’t know that a loaf of white bread contains any fibre, protein, calcium, folic acid or iron.

Just over half (51%) recognise that it does contain fibre but many people aren’t aware of its vitamin and mineral content with 76% unaware that white bread contains calcium. Meanwhile, only three in ten (29%) know that bread contains protein.

Many women (for whom dietary needs for folic acid and iron are highest) don’t know that bread is a source of these nutrients: 86% of those questioned don’t think bread contains iron and 82% do not think bread contains folic acid.

The facts about bread are being marred by sensationalist health myths and women in particular are getting confused:

* 34% women believe that bread causes bloating versus just 16% men

* 22% women think that bread is fattening compared to 19% men

Even the standing of bread in Ireland’s heritage seems to be in jeopardy:

* 54% 18-24 year olds said that the history and heritage of Irish bread is not important to them

The future looks even bleaker when we look at young children’s opinions about bread

* 23% 9-11 year olds either do not think that bread is generally good for you or could not say if it is good or bad for you

Most recognise that bread’s core ingredient is flour (98%) but then get confused about other vital ingredients:

* 43% 5-11 year olds don’t know that bread contains a raising agent like yeast

* 52% 5-11 year olds don’t know that it is made with water

Oh dear, we have to put them straight. In an effort to do so, yesterday Dublin saw the launch of Love Your Loaf – Bread Week. A week devoted to bring back the love for bread! We know quite a few bakers that would have something to say about these facts and figures!

Declan  Ryan of Arbutus Breads  has long been an campaigner for bringing back real bread – hand made, slow proved bread made with the best flours and cared for from start to finish. He feels that poor quality mass produced breads made commercially on a large scale  and which contain artificial improvers that make the bread rise quickly,   have contributed to many  health complaints associated with eating bread.

If you want to love bread again, , it’s time to start eating good bread, as made by our amazing bakers. They get up every day in the early hours to make proper bread and they want you to enjoy eating it! Use your loaf this week and celebrate real bread in Ireland – from the traditional soda bread to sourdoughs and rustic baguettes – our artisans craft all sorts of styles that are full of flavour. Once you’ve tasted them, you’ll be a convert – and you certainly will be returning to lovin’ your loaf!

Bring back bread to your table this week!